I think most scientists will agree that communicating complex scientific ideas to the general public is quite challenging. We have probably all been at some sort of family gathering, high school reunion, or significant other’s work party where when asked to explain what our research focuses on by a unknowing guest, we are met with blank stares, or even worse, the person turns around and walks the other way while you are in mid-sentence. Yes, the general public could definitely use a good crash course in basic scientific facts, but we as scientists can also work to do a better job of explaining these topics in an accessible, non-intimidating manner. While communicating science is hard and at times extremely frustrating, for those willing to commit even a bit of time, this act becomes easier with practice. With this in mind, here are two new ways to practice your science communication skills:
Can you explain your research using only the 1,000 most used words? I challenge you not to use the “hints” the page suggests, they really make it much too easy. And this is much harder than you might at first think, science is not even among the 1000 possible words! The text editor was created by Theo Sanderson and was based on this xkcd comic strip.
The American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, in conjunction with the Cambridge Science Festival, challenges you to submit your best answer for, “What is a germ?” Frame your response so elementary school students can understand it, they will be the judges! This challenge was based off of Alan Alda’s “What is a Flame?” challenge.